Cineraria uses florescent puce kit, supposedly so that she can find her hand rake if she puts it down. Her flower beds rattle with misplaced ironmongery, so I suspect that all the candy colours are there for aesthetic reasons. I use a sexy leather holster for expensive items such as good quality secateurs. I find that this is most comfortable worn at the hip; when cinched at the waist I’ve learned that my chest gets in the way of a quick draw, a problem that Wild Bill Hickok never had to address.
Helleborus argutifolius (large hellebore, small bee)
Since last week’s assault on the conservatory, I have started pruning outdoors. The roses have thorns like scimitars. The proper word for them is prickles but this is too mild a term to describe the damage done by a passing encounter. I drew on my elbow length gauntlets and approached the task with loppers and trepidation. I removed anything dead, spindly or crossing, then cut back old growth hard to an outward facing bud. I mopped up sweat and tears with a handkerchief, the blood will be good for the blooms. The ramblers are too high for me to molest without a jet pack. The climbing roses have been given a haircut and the stems tied to the arches and support wires with soft string. I used to have an enormous “Dorothy Perkins”, clearly chosen by the lady of the house before my time. I hated it. The foliage caught black spot, mildew and mould. The buds were always plastered in greenfly and you could hear the blackfly smacking their chops from the kitchen door. Blossom was a thin smear of aggressive pink. Despite my antipathy, I used to lure expert Botanical Barbara to help me to tame the monster by snipping and trussing it into swirls on the fence, after which it looked almost tasteful. When I finally decided to dig it up, I felt an exquisite sense of freedom from tyranny.
Tulipa, Narcissus & Hyacinthoides non-scripta (bluebell)
I chose a blackberry for the name; Rubus fruticosus “Oregon Thornless” sounds like a pain-free prospect and bears beautiful plump fragrant berries in generous quantities. Every spring I sever last year’s stems and chop them up for the compost heap. Some care is needed at this stage, to avoid slashing into the new stalks which thread their way through the rejects. With the aid of a step ladder I can wind the shoots into pretty shapes, since they are soft enough for me to bend and tie them in place on their tall, sunny frame. My string is a subtle green and I keep losing it when I drop it amongst the bluebells.
Rubus fruticosus “Oregon Thornless”
When working in a customer’s garden, his grandchild used to help. Since he was a pleasant infant, I used to tell him what I was doing and why. I lent the boy a trowel and gave him a patch to dig. Despite his fascination, I refused his use of sharp edged tools. I suspect that his elders would have counted fingers and could notice if one or two were missing. After I had departed, he told his mother that the sheriff had turned up today and did some weeding.